| Click Now to Order
2 Cor. 8:1-5
Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has
been given in the churches of Macedonia,  that in a great ordeal of
affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in
the wealth of their liberality.  For I testify that according to their
ability, and beyond their ability they gave of their own accord,  begging
us with much entreaty for the favor of participation in the support of
the saints,  and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves
to the Lord and to us by the will of God.
For the two weeks before Easter and the two weeks after Easter, we will
be celebrating faithfulness at our church. Our focus is upon God's faithfulness
to bless those who are faithful to attend, serve and give. During this
time, you will listen to sermons from me and from other church members
that highlight a different aspect of faithfulness. You'll see several video
clips like we just saw and read and listen to testimonies from some of
our faithful servants about God's faithfulness. We'll have a movie night,
next Sunday night, complete with popcorn and we'll complete the emphasis
with a "Faithfulness Fiesta"-a time to enjoy good food and learn about
ways you can get involved in the ministries of our church.
Later in the service, we're going to do a verse by verse study of the
passage of scripture I just read, but for now, I want to introduce Sam
Varner to you. Today is Sam's last Sunday in our church, so I want to begin
by saying goodbye to him and then give him a chance to tell us about how
God has blessed him through some difficult days as he remained faithful
Some things to notice about the faithfulness of the Macedonian Christians.
Vs. 1 "Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God
which has been given in the churches of Macedonia," Ultimately, Paul was
not drawing attention to what these people did, but to God's grace and
the way it flowed through them to others. That's a decent definition of
faithfulness-allowing God's grace to flow through you to others.
Faithful people are not always the most talented or the most visible.
Many of them minister in the obscurity of holiness. Just doing their thing
because they love their Lord. The emphasis is not on them, or what they
are doing-the emphasis is on the Lord.
Vs. 2 "that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and
their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality." We often
think of big givers as being wealthy people, not ordinary working stiffs,
but that isn't necessarily true. Notice the language Paul used-abundance
of joy-deep poverty-wealth of their liberality. In the midst of their deep
poverty, these people had abundant joy and great wealth-not in money, but
Some people have good intentions on being faithful to tithe. They know
it is the right thing to do and that it is necessary for the work of the
Lord to go forward, but they wait for the time to be right to start. They
wait until they have extra money or until they think they can afford it.
But these people, gave out of their poverty, not their wealth.
I'd agree that people with great resources give. Not financial resources,
but faith resources. We will only give when we have enough faith in God
to take care of us.
Vs 3 "For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their
ability they gave of their own accord," These weren't people who figured
out how much they could afford to give, then gave that amount, they gave
beyond their ability.
Again, it was based upon the strength of their faith, not the strength
of their bank account. They trusted that God could and would meet their
needs, even if-especially if they followed his commands and gave their
tithes and offerings.
Vs. 4 "begging us with much entreaty for the favor of participation
in the support of the saints," We all know the old tired, worn-out cliche
of a preacher begging for money to "keep his show on the air" or pay for
something else. That wasn't what was going on here-these people were begging
to be able to give.
How did these people get to be this way? Verse 5 is the key.
Vs. 5 "and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves
to the Lord and to us by the will of God." They gave their money, because
they first gave of themselves. Sometimes we get that backward, we expect
an otherwise uncommitted person to devote time and money to the Lord's
work, when they have never really given themselves to the Lord.
In a recent article for NEWSWEEK, Jane Bryant Quinn gave seven tips
for financial health. They included things like lower your spending, get
out of debt and have an emergency fund on hand-basic money management principles.
Exactly what I'd expect to read in an article like this. But one thing
she wrote jumped off the page when I read it. It was the kind of thing
I'd expect a preacher to say, she wrote, "What you do with your money shows
where your values lie." (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
What would an audit of your checkbook show about what you really value
As we celebrate faithfulness, our only focus is on giving. We understand
Stewardship to be inclusive of that, but broader than that. We believe
that when God has got you, not only will you be generous givers, but that
you will be faithful to attend and serve in your church. For the next month,
we'll celebrate those who are faithful to God, and His faithfulness back
Pray that God will reveal to you if you are being faithful to Him, and
that he will give you the courage to become a faithful servant if you are